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Re: Re: Mathematica and Education

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg64999] Re: [mg64957] Re: [mg64934] Mathematica and Education
  • From: Murray Eisenberg <murray at>
  • Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 05:15:34 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: Mathematics & Statistics, Univ. of Mass./Amherst
  • References: <>
  • Reply-to: murray at
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

I've interspersed two comments below.

King, Peter R wrote:
> .... But how do I
> know when the defaults don't suite my purpose, because I have spent many
> years doing things by hand and gaining that experience to know what I
> want. I am not convinced that if I had done all my mathematics within
> Mathematica I would have gained the same experience. 

That's a very legitimate concern.  to my mind it's the principal excuse 
for still doing complicated paper-and-pencil calculations when learning. 
  (Simple paper-and-pencil calculations may be readily justified as 
needed to understand what's happening.)

> In particular for practicing engineers they may be out in the field,
> away from a computer and be required to do a back of the envelope
> calculation by hand. If you have never done it before you will be stuck
> and I don't think you could consider yourself a "real" engineer.

But that seems to me to be essentially a "red herring".  It's the old 
"What will you do if you're on a desert island and don't have access to 
a table of integrals?" question.  Surely many "in the field" engineers 
now carry their laptops or tablet computers with them whenever they're 
on the job.  And we may be only a short time away from the day that 
Mathematica will be available on a calculator/PDA-sized device that fits 
into a shirt pocket.

Murray Eisenberg                     murray at
Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (W)
710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
Amherst, MA 01003-9305

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